Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Celebrating one year at goal weight!

It was exactly one year ago this week that I reached my goal weight for the first time. I'm happy to say that (one year later) I'm still there! I weighed in tonight at my WW meeting right on target, like I have at least once a month since last January. It is essential for me to have that accountability in place. I've never gotten more than 5 or 6 lbs above my goal weight, but I think a large part of that is knowing I *have* to weigh in once a month (I like having goals). Either way I'm happy to say it's worked! The receptionist at my meeting tonight made me feel pretty good. She said that most people who are going to gain it back do so in the first year, so the fact that I'm still going strong is a good sign. I realize this will be something I have to work at for the rest of my life, but feeling like I do and being content with my body makes it so worth it.

Besides, I get to eat some pretty good stuff!! Tonight at WW I shared that the thing that's helped me the most was focusing on all the healthy, yummy food I can eat, rather than what I can't. Here's what I ate today.

Breakfast this morning was 2 egg whites on a sandwich thin with marinara sauce. Yum!!

For lunch I had my usually bowl of vegetable soup, but I didn't feel like making a salad.
Instead I went to Whole Foods and bought a Mediterranean Salad Shaker.  I love this salad! It has chick peas, red pepper, tomato, spinach, yellow squash, carrots, and kalmata olives. The dressing is an oil-free balsamic dressing (balsamic vinegar, nutritional yeast, maybe some mustard, and a bunch of spices).
You just pour on some dressing and shake-shake-shake!! It's seriously delicious and extremely low-point. 

In the afternoon I was craving dark chocolate. So I had four squares (60 calories worth) of this Maya Gold chocolate bar. (Sorry for the fuzzy picture!) It is dark chocolate with spices and orange. It was soooo good with a cup of coffee!

Then at our WW meeting I was pretty hungry so Roz kindly offered me a pack of WW Popped BBQ Potato Crips. Oh my goodness, were they ever good! And you get so many for only 2 points. That's it - I was hooked and bought my own box on the spot!
I didn't take a picture so I used Google Image Search to find one. HILARIOUSLY the one it found me (this one) is from Roz's blog :) Thanks, Roz, for the picture (and the snack)!!!!

Dinner tonight was a basic omelette. I tried out Lori's omlette technique a while back and love it!! Tonight was broccoli, peppers, olives, cheese, and hot sauce. Yes, an interesting combination, but it hit the spot! (Also this picture makes the omelette look way smaller than it is. It's an egg plus 2 egg whites and was actually huge!)

Then later I had a hot brownie sundae. Ok, it was just a warm Fibre One brownie topped with fat-free vanilla yogurt, but it was delicious. I forgot to take a picture until after I had already dug in!

I just realized that today was meatless. Tomorrow I will make sure I get some more protein!

Knowing that I had to weigh in tonight really helped me focus on losing the last of my holiday weight. Now that I'm back at goal weight I want to see if I can lose another couple of pounds. Ideally, I'd like to reach a comfortable weight where I could weigh in any day, at any time, wearing any clothes, after eating any meal, and be at goal weight. That's my ultimate goal. But in the meantime, thanks to my WW buddy Roz for the good walk-and-talk and all the support along the way :)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Good News x 2!

Whew! This week just flew by for me and I have no idea where the time went! I'm trying to figure out what exactly I've been doing...honestly my head has been a bit cloudy for the past few days. Time to focus on the present and find some clarity.

Maybe part of the reason I'm in such a fluster is excitement over a couple of things I found out about this week.

Exciting Announcement #1
On Wednesday afternoon I found out that have been nominated for the Governor General's Gold Medal. This award is given to the PhD graduate with the most outstanding academic record at each university. Each department is asked to nominate their top student and my department (Experimental Medicine) picked me! The competition is pretty stiff because there is only one award given each year out of all the graduating PhD students so my application will be ranked against all the other students in different departments (e.g. students in Math, Chemistry, Physics, English, etc). Either way, it is really an honour just to be nominated (cliche but in this case, very true). Since it's very difficult to determine the top student in a thesis-based program they'll base it on a number of factors including publications, awards, references, etc. It really is comparing apples to oranges - how do you compare someone with a PhD in Social Work to one in Engineering??

I won the Governor General's Bronze Medal for being the top academic student in my graduating class at the high school level and it would be amazing to have the Gold Medal too. I really really doubt that it will happen, but it would be pretty cool! In any case, I am thrilled to be chosen as the top Experimental Medicine student (out of about 40-50 graduates).

Note: There are 3 levels of this award. Bronze at the high school level, Silver at the Bachelor's level, and Gold at the Masters/Doctoral level.

Exciting Announcement #2
One more big piece of news, also related to my work. Back in October I applied for a post-doctoral fellowship from a Breast Cancer funding agency and I found out yesterday that I was awarded it!! It turns out they only gave out one award in all of British Columbia and the Yukon, so I feel very lucky to be the recipient. This award pays my salary + benefits for the next two years, so it benefits both my employer (because he doesn't have to pay me, so the money can go into doing more research) and me (because I get a significant pay raise!). Also, my job is now secure for at least two years, which is always nice to know. I feel very happy to have my work recognized and deemed worthy of funding. I am currently doing breast cancer research - we are studying metastasis and developing treatments to stop breast cancer metastasis.
In other news, I hit my goal weight again yesterday morning for the first time since the beginning of December! But then there was some serious celebrating last night with Evan and my lab mates after I found out about the fellowship. I didn't do too badly, all things considered but this morning (unsurprisingly) I was up a couple pounds. But I am back on track again and planning on weighing in within my goal range on Tuesday!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Chicken dinner and some new clothes

Tonight I was on my own for dinner. Usually when that happens I just throw something together for myself. But tonight I felt like cooking, so I did!

I really enjoyed the chicken I made over the weekend, so tonight I tried a simpler version.

I washed and dried some chicken breast filets and seasoned them with salt and pepper. Then I breaded them with bread crumbs, basil, and garlic salt.

 I also prepped some zucchini (olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper) and put both in the oven (400 degrees).

20 min later I topped the chicken with marinara sauce and a little cheese and put it back in for another 4 min.

Voila! Out of the oven!

My dinner plate - salad with honey mustard dressing, chicken, and zucchini. Not bad for a 6 point dinner in 25 minutes!

And dessert (they had whole pineapples on sale for super cheap)!

Yesterday I mentioned my new ski clothes. Over the last year I've slowly replaced my wardrobe, piece by piece, as I've needed to. On average I've gone from an XL to a medium, or a size 14/16 to a size 6/8. These days I don't have many of my old clothes left but there are one or two things still kicking around. This last weekend my husband decided it was time for new sweat pants! My old ones (which I've had since Grade 11) were no longer going to cut it. So I found some new ones! They are still loose and cozy (who wants tight sweats?) but they actually fit. Here are the old ones compared to the new ones:

I don't know if the difference is obvious in these photos, but now at least the crotch is in the right place! I also got a new ski jacket. Here is my old red one and my new pink one (tags still on!).

Yay for new clothes that fit!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Just a quickie

  • Made a huge batch of zero point veggie soup for lunches last night. Ingredients: chicken stock, crushed tomatoes, carrots, celery, zucchini, green beans, and spices. This time I added rosemary for the first time, along with a spicy pepper mix, and it's delicious! I'm good to go again for a couple weeks.
  • I have a sweet tooth and love finding treats I can have that are reasonable, yet hit the spot! Two that I've found recently:
    • Mix sugar-free chocolate pudding with Light Cool-Whip to make chocolate mousse
    • A whole Skor bar is only 200 calories (6 points), so 1/3 of one for 2 pts is a great treat (or 1/2 a bar for 3 points)
  • I'm going to need to eat "on plan" for the rest of my life. Sometimes I find it easy and other times it's really a struggle. It makes it much more manageable and enjoyable when I have lots of ideas of healthy, satisfying foods at my fingertips. But I tend to have a crappy memory and sometimes forget about things. So I'm going to start a new page on my blog with some of my  favourite, healthy meal and snack ideas that I can keep updating. Look for it coming soon!

  • I have been dealing with injuries for a while now. Hips/IT band/butt issues. But yesterday I ran on the treadmill for 20 min with no pain. That's progress! I can accept that I will probably never run half-marathons again (my scoliosis causes injuries that are just too serious) but my goal is to run 30 min on the treadmill at high intensity. If I can do that I'll be happy! I think I need a few more physio sessions to make that happen.

  • Next Tuesday is the last chance I have this month to weigh in at WW "at goal". Since I reached my goal weight last January (exactly 1 year ago!!) I have weighed in each and every month at goal. So I really don't want to let myself down this month. I have 2 or so more pounds to go and I know I can do it! As I said a couple posts ago, I'm feeling great - my pants fit and I have much more muscle definition. I think I have gained a couple pounds from working out, but I still I think I can get back to (and maintain) my goal weight. Besides, this goal will be a great motivator!

  • This past week I went shopping for a new ski jacket and ski pants. I tried on my old ski stuff and it was laughable (it was a generous XL and fit 70 lbs ago) so we decided I needed new gear. Happily, finding clothes is so much easier now. I am officially a solid size medium, both on the top and bottom. It's great to be able to grab pretty much anything and know that the size medium will usually fit. Look out on the slopes - I'm going to be a ski bunny! (And a heck of a lot warmer than the cartoon below!)

Ok that's it for today! I just finished watching Biggest Loser and I have to say the one hour format is sooo much better. Also Conda is an idiot. Just saying.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Weekend Update

Last night I watched SNL for first time in years - Emma Stone was alright (anyone else think she's gotten too skinny?) and Coldplay were AMAZING! I like their music but don't think I've seen them live before - man, Chris Martin can MOVE! Anyhow, keeping with the spirit of the long-time SNL segment, here is my weekend update!

Saturday night we had Roz (from the amazing blog Weightingfor50) and her husband Dennis over for dinner. Roz and I met our first day of Weight Watchers a year and a half ago and became fast friends. By the end of that first meeting, everyone thought we had come together even though we had just met! But until last night we had always hung out as a two-some, never with our men.

For our "dinner party" I used some of my favourite recipes from Gina's site (I owe a lot to that gal - all her recipes are simple, healthy, and delicious). For an appetizer I made Hot Spinach Dip and served it with homemade baked pita chips, carrots, and celery. I found some "authentic Greek pitas" at the grocery store that were only 230 calories for a huge pita. We cut three pitas into strips, spritzed them with a little olive oil, and sprinkled with kosher salt. We baked them at 400 degrees for 9-10 min and they were great (and pretty low cal!).

For dinner I made a salad with spring greens, low-fat goat cheese, blueberries, cranberries, and chopped cashews topped with Balsamic Vinaigrette, Chicken Rollatini with Spinach, and Steamed Asparagus with Dijon Vinaigrette. I have to say, this menu was great because everything could be done ahead of time and then just baked at the last minute. I got to enjoy the evening, rather than being tied to the kitchen.

Here are Roz and Dennis (they are such a cute couple!) right before we dug in!

 A close up of my plate.

And a cross-section of the chicken.

Roz made a delicious lemon No-Bake cheesecake (also based on a recipe from Gina's site!) topped with blackberries - super tasty!

Evan and I were trying to take a nice picture - until he decided to make it look like I was stealing his dessert!

It was a fun night and we look forward to doing it again soon!

Sunday we didn't start out having any plans but ended up having a busy day of errands, shopping, and all-you-can-eat sushi. I went to the gym in the morning (50 min of cardio) and it was a good thing I did because we were busy the rest of the day. I ended up going to watch Evan's curling game in the evening and took some cute pictures of him. He's become quite a proficient curler. Look at that form!

Then we had a late dinner of Subway! I used to love pizza subs. Luckily, I realized what I really liked was the marinara sauce (not the pepperoni) so now I get a veggie sub (no cheese) with marinara sauce. Tasty!

Now I'm just relaxing for a little bit before it's bedtime. Ugh, I can't believe it's Monday already - the weekend just flew by! Sadly, I'm out of soup for lunches so I think tomorrow night I'll be making another big batch of soup. Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Fat 'n Fit!

I have always been fit - even before I lost the weight. I took PE all through high school, even after it became optional. I signed up for "Superfit" in Grade 11 (what a lame name!) and actually won the Grade 10 PE award. I liked running - I think I liked the challenge. Before I lost the weight I ran in a bunch of races, 5 km, 10 km, and three 1/2 marathons. I was fit and active, but not as healthy as I could be.

My sister and I before our first 5k

Getting ready for the Sun Run

Mid-way through a half marathon

With my Dad after a half-marathon

You can be fit and overweight. And you can be skinny and unfit. 

Even though I started running in part to lose weight, it wasn't until I made changes in my diet that I noticed any change in my clothes or on the scale. But even though exercising didn't cause me to lose weight, it had its own set of rewards. Although I was obese, I was strong, (relatively) solid, and could run for 13 miles!

After I started tracking my food and making better food choices, the weight started coming off. I still was active and worked out occasionally, but my focus became more about diet and less about exercise. I also struggled mentally with exercise because it made the scale go up. I realize that "I don't like working out because it makes me gain weight" is a terrible excuse. But at the time, it really bothered me and honestly, I was doing just fine without working out more than once or twice a week.

After I lost the weight, but before really committing to exercise

But now that I'm firmly in maintenance mode, exercise has once again become important to me. I have no desire to be slim (can I call myself slim??) and weak. I want to be strong! Since the last week of December I have been very active and I am already seeing changes. My endurance has increased and I can see muscle definition. But yes, the scale has gone up. My clothes fit like they do when I'm at goal weight, but I'm still 3 lbs heavier. But this time I'm going to try not to worry about it. I'm going to stay on track with my eating AND working out, because I think to be truly healthy requires both!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Lunch Redux

After yesterday's lunch mishap, I was determined to make a great lunch for today. And I succeeded!

Just like yesterday, all of my work colleagues decided to get take-out for lunch. Today they got Indian food - butter chicken, rice, and naan. At first I was a bit jealous. But armed with the lesson I learned yesterday and a filling, delicious, healthy homemade lunch everything turned out just fine. In fact, when the five of us sat around the lunchroom table, THEY were actually jealous of MY lunch.

Here's what I had:
A large salad with spring greens, grape tomatoes, carrots, celery, mushrooms, goat cheese, and bacon bits, topped with Honey Mustard dressing.

Note: In the future I will add chicken or tuna to this for some more protein, but last night we didn't have any in the house!

And a bowl of tomato basil soup.

Then later in the afternoon I had pina colada yogurt with blueberries and bananas, topped with some Vanilla Almond Special K.

So in the end I had a huge, tasty, low-point lunch and they ended up with average Indian food. I know that if I had caved and gotten take-out with the gang I would have regretted it as soon as I finished eating. This way, there was no guilt or heartburn and I had plenty of points left for a tasty dinner (and dessert!).

My lunch, ready to be all packed up!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Learning to budget

Today was an exercise in budgeting. Some good choices, some not so good choices, some lessons learned.

I started the day with a great breakfast. 1/2 cup of cottage cheese, with pineapple and a tbsp of granola spinkled on top.

I had decided not to bring a lunch today - I just didn't feel like making one. So I ended up going to a Mexican fast food chain with some of my colleagues. I still made fairly good choices and ordered a small, whole wheat, chicken breast burrito. I asked for less rice, beans, and cheese than normal and extra veggies. But I did get guac and chipotle sauce. Based on the (surprisingly detailed) nutritional info from their website (which I looked at after the fact) I'm guesstimating my burrito was about 680 calories. Not bad for a fast food burrito, but way more than I would normal "spend" on lunch.
This is not my picture but it looks pretty close!
After tracking this and the rest of my snacks throughout the day I figured out how many points I had left for dinner. Not many. So I made the most of it and made one of my favourite low-point dinners. Marinara sauce over steamed zucchini "noodles" and mushrooms!

I realized a while ago that what I really like about pasta is the sauce! And I find steamed zucchini (and whatever veggies I want to add) works as a great carrier. Using my peeler I peeled a zucchini into thin strips.
Then I added chopped mushrooms (gives it kind of a "meaty" texture).
Then I steamed the veggies in the microwave, topped them with marinara sauce, mixed it all together, and sprinkled it with a bit of parmesan cheese. Basically, it is just a big bowl of veggies. A DELICIOUS big bowl of veggies!!

So in the end, I salvaged my day and came in right at my daily points target. But I was reminded (again!) that making my own lunches is important. Although I thought I really wanted a burrito it really wasn't worth it. It wasn't THAT tasty or filling and actually made me want to snack more than normal in the afternoon. However, I'm not getting too hung up about it - one less than stellar choice is really not the end of the world. It's just a reminder to make good choices and manage my budget wisely!

This cartoon made me laugh today (thanks Evan!) and reminded me I should pick up my knitting needles again!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Workout Tunes

Today we woke up to snow, which is pretty rare in the Pacific Northwest! It was really coming down on my way into work this morning.

Even though there wasn't too much accumulation, it was still really pretty! Days like today make me appreciate being able to walk to work - I hate driving in the snow. On my way to work I saw three almost accidents. As soon as there is a teeny tiny bit of snow on the ground it's like people forget how to drive (what's a four way stop???).

Although I'm taking a rest day today because I can hardly stand-up/sit-down/walk due to my squats and lunges yesterday, I wanted to share a bit about my work-out music. For me, having good music can make the difference between an average and great workout. I like to workout to music with a fast, driving beat - it helps keep my energy up! Also, knowing I have fun songs to listen to sometimes gives me the kick in the butt I need to get my workout in.

Here's what's currently on my mp3 player:
  • Black Eyed Peas - Pump It
  • Pink - So What
  • Carolina Liar - I'm Not Over
  • Matchbox 20 - How Far We've Come
  • Boys Like Girls - Love Drunk
  • Young the Giant - My Body
  • LMFAO - Party Rock Anthem
  • Kanye West - Stronger
  • Pitbull - I Know You Want Me
  • LMFAO - Sexy and I Know It
  • The Killers - Somebody Told Me
  • Linkin Park - Bleed It Out
  • Bruno Mars - Runaway Baby
  • Owl City - Umbrella Beach
  • Black Eyed Peas, I Gotta Feeling
  • Katy Perry - Hot N Cold
  • The Ramones - I Wanna Be Sedated
  • Flo Rida - Club Can't Handle Me
  • Alexandra Stan - Mr. Saxobeat
  • Arkarna - So Little Time
  • Avril Lavigne - Skaterboy
  • Down With Webster - Your Man
  • Enrique Iglesias (feat. Pitbull) - I Like It
  • Kesha - Tick Tock
  • Lady GaGa - Born this Way
  • Pitbull - Hey Baby (Drop It to the Floor)
  • The Veronicas - Untouched
What's your favourite song to work out to? Hope you all had a great Monday!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Relaxing weekend

Ahh this weekend was great! Unlike last weekend, I didn't have to work. Instead I got to do exactly what I wanted, which is always nice :)

Friday night we had my parents and brother over for dinner. I made Baked Zucchini Sticks with Marinara Sauce, a big green salad, and we made homemade pizzas! It was a lot of fun, delicious, and very healthy. The other option we had tossed around was going out for dinner but I find it so much harder to find healthy options that still fill-up and satisfy me, so for tonight staying in worked out well. I also had half a bottle of Dirty Landry Merlot *hiccup*, which was great. Gotta add it to my wine journal!
I am lucky to live near the Okanagan Valley and each summer my Mom, sister, and I visit my Grandparents (who live there) and do a wine tasting trip. There are over 100 wineries within a 30 min drive from my Grandparents' place (including some within walking/stumbling distance) - it's amazing. My Grandparents live on a lake and I always loved spending a couple of weeks there each summer when I was a kid. Now, I still like visiting them - but for other reasons! Here are a couple pictures from our trip this last year.

My sister and I at Dirty Laundry
Me, my Mom, and my Sister <3
We also went horseback riding while we were there last summer. 
Riding off into the sunset!

Me and a foal
Me and my Grandpa - making memories
Ok...back to my weekend. Saturday morning I hit the gym for a great cardio workout. They happened to have the US Olympic Marathon Trials the TV at the gym. Turns out watching a marathon while you're doing cardio is very motivating!! I ended up doing 50 min just because I wanted to see the finish.

Then yesterday afternoon my husband and I finished planning the trip we are going on in March. Over 10 days we will visit Barcelona, Paris, and Madrid. This will likely be our last vacation for a long time and we are very excited for it. Back in June we stumbled across an amazing deal on airfare to Madrid and decided to go for it! Now everything is booked and all that remains is for me to plan out what we'll see (I like planning things out in advance so we feel like we're making the most of our trip.

Today is a very relaxing day. I went to the gym this morning and did a great cardio + strength workout. I know I am going to be sore tomorrow!! Then I spent this afternoon at Starbucks, drinking my new favourite tea (chai tea bag + sugar-free cinnamon dolce syrup), catching up on blogs, planning our trip, and finishing my book. Tonight I made myself a flatbread veggie pizza for dinner and caught up on TV (Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice)! Can't complain - it's been a wonderful weekend. :)

Flatbread pizza